Our big plans in the new backyard!

May 16, 2019

Whoooooo...we are SO excited about the possibilities for our backyard. Giddy! We've lived here about 19 months now and we've always had big plans for the back of our house, we just know it will take a while to get to where we were at the old house. 

If you are new to my site since we moved into our current home, you may not have seen much of our old backyard. If you are a long-time reader, excuse me while I reminisce a bit. ;) Then I'll get to the plans for the new house! 

We lived in our old home for more than 14 years. We had a deck built soon after moving in, but after that didn't touch the backyard for years. Eventually we paid off a significant amount of debt by following the Dave Ramsey plan. (You can read all about our journey at that link!) 

Soon after paying that off, we saved up to add a large patio with a fireplace: 
Outdoor fireplace on paver patio

It was absolutely DREAMY:
Paver patio with stone fireplace

We just adored this space and used it as often as we could.

Later on we added a pergola to the deck as well:

Wood pergola on deck with lights

You can read about the BEST string lights for outside here. They are still holding up years later!: 
Pergola on deck with table and chairs

And of course...the part I miss the most. My babies, the plants. I worked SO hard on making the whole backyard a beautiful oasis: 
Outdoor fireplace, brick wall with stones and landscape

Pergola, deck and paver patio with landscaping

Landscaping around patio with rocks and plants

Gardening is one of my greatest joys in life -- the initial work is tough, but so worth it. I would walk through the yard almost daily in the summer to cut the flowers for inside and to see how things were growing. 

I have missed that SO much, I can't even tell you. Since we moved into this house I've replaced a few plants with knock out roses (a favorite of mine) and I planted three peony plants. Another favorite -- see my tips for growing peonies here

I asked our builder to include as many hydrangeas as possible and they obliged. I can already tell they are going to take off this year big time. But for me the joy is in taking an empty spot and filling it up with green and color. So far we haven't had many places to do that.

I didn't want to add much to the backyard knowing that someday I'd have to dig them up when we added a patio. So I've held off for the most part and I am itching to get started again! Thankfully, I think it will happen sooner than we thought! We got some quotes for a patio and they didn't come back nearly as high as we thought they'd be. 

Currently we have a covered porch that is the BOMB:
Benefits of covered patio

We LOVE having this covered porch right off the house. I know it sounds crazy when you see how pretty our old backyard was, but we've already used this patio more in two years than we did the old one in double that amount of time. 

I'm not sure what it is? It's definitely cooler under here on a warm, sunny day, so that has a lot to do with it I'm sure. The fan helps a ton too. And now that I think of it, the fact that (for the most part) the cushions stay dry when it rains helps too. So often we'd want to go out at the old house but the cushions were wet or needed to be cleaned. 

All that to say...we do miss having some room to spread out a bit! And this spring especially there are days when I just want to go out with a book and sit in the warm sun. This is the thing though -- I told my husband from day one that I did NOT want a deck. No wood. Or very little of it at least (I could see adding a pergola again). Not only that, but I didn't want a paver patio again. 

The upkeep of the wood wasn't TOO bad, but I still don't want to deal with it. The paver patio was gorgeous, but with the trees around, a ton of little sprouts would start in between the pavers. It was a lot of work to keep those at bay throughout the summer. 

So I want to go as simple as you can get...concrete. Boring, basic concrete baby! I cannot wait. ;) My husband loves the look of aggregate (as do I), but one of the contractors we talked to said it should be sealed at least once a year, if not twice. So we're still discussing that. 

Because I like to see things on paper first, I came up with a design for the patio (please know this is super rough and was not drawn for all of you to see it 😂), but it gives you an idea!: 
patio plans with round firepit area

It will be quite large in total -- about 700 square feet. Our backyard is HUGE and we have a ridiculous amount of room, so this will barely take up much even at this size. 

The main part of the patio is about 15 by 30 and the fire pit circle is 14 feet across. 

We have one of those huge umbrellas that covers a lot of space, so I plan to use that over a table and chairs right off the current porch. I'd like to have a spot to lay and read or lay out occasionally, so that's off to the left.

Our favorite part is the large round firepit area in the corner. I've dreamed of something like that since we moved in and I can't wait! I've always loved the idea of a large spot big enough to have a bunch of chairs. 

And of course, I can barely even wait to start landscaping around all of it. I'm considering rocks instead of mulch this time though -- do any of you use rocks in your landscape? It will help keep the upkeep costs down significantly I think. We'll be adding trees and eventually I hope it will be just as pretty as the old house!

So that's the plan for now...we're hoping they can get us in in July, so we have to wait awhile. We're good at that, considering it took 14 years to get from this: 

To this at our old house: 

That's the plan so far! I'll be sure to update you on any changes or progress along the way! Do you have a patio? A deck? Pavers? What do you love or dislike about them?

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  1. Have you thought of a stamped concrete? You could have it stamped or formed to look like pavers, but then it wouldn't have the area between for plants to grow (we have that issue on our paver patio as well...). Check concrete patio on houzz, so many more ideas than just a plain ol slab. I find aggregate to be rough on bare feet and difficult to clean as well.

    1. I'm weird and probably in the minority because I like regular concrete more than stamped! I think it's lovely when I see it!I just prefer the simpler look.

    2. We had stamped concrete at our last home and it was slippery when wet!! We decided against it this time around for many reasons but mostly because of the kids.

    3. I also prefer regular concrete to stamped. It's cheaper and I like that it looks more simple.

  2. We use Tennessee stone for mulch. You put it down once and your done. I love it.

  3. We have stamped concrete and I love it. It is about two years old and we need to seal it again this year. It is close to 1000 square feet and has a fire pit similar to your drawing. We use it all the time. Here is a link if you are interested in seeing it.....https://ruminationsandreckonings.com/2017/08/13/new-patio-and-firepit/

  4. We switched from mulch to rock and I am THRILLED with the reduction in work and upkeep! I do love the look of mulch, but the change in upkeep has been wonderful! Also, we switched a wood deck to Trex decking and are very happy with that. However, if I were doing it all again, I would definitely do a poured concrete patio. I have a stamped concrete patio but would not do that again as it also needs to be resealed. So fun seeing your pictures of your son and sweet dog in the original house and yard! It amazes me how long I've been following you!

  5. So jealous that you even have a backyard (and a porch) to work with! I feel like I live through you, haha, since I live in a tiny apartment...

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  6. Can you share who you got quotes from for some of us locals that are interested in putting in a concrete patio?! :) Thanks!

    1. Sure! Email me and I'll send you names and numbers. :)

  7. We have stamped concrete and love it. Not only is it beautiful, but it's so easy to maintain. We power wash it once a year. Every other year we also seal it. It's so easy to seal it....we just roll it on with a roller and it takes very little time. We have stamped concrete on all of our sidewalks, our front porch and our back patio. We definitely recommend stamped concrete.

  8. As Leslie said above - Stamped Concrete is the way to do! SO pretty and easy to maintain too! They can color it, do different designs - whatever you want!

    1. I'm probably in the minority because I much prefer basic concrete to stamped. Plus it is not cheap! :)

  9. Definitely do stamped concrete! Aggregate is horrible to walk on barefoot! Our sidewalk and driveway are aggregate, and I hate it. We have a paver patio, and the weeds are awful. Just sprayed some today. We had a stamped concrete sidewalk and porch at our old house and it was great! We just sealed it once a year, and it didn't take much time at all. You can do so many different finishes and designs with concrete now.

    1. I prefer the look of regular concrete over stamped, plus it adds quite a bit on to the cost! So we'll definitely be going with either the basic or aggregate. Yes the pavers can be a pain!! :)

  10. Switch to rocks, you will be so glad you did! We switched after re landscaping our first yard and then realized re mulching every year was a major buzzkill. Three houses later, we've never used mulch again. Rocks are so cheap (at least in Dayton, OH) - we pay $20 ish a ton, plus a delivery fee. It's more work to spread them initially because they're heavier than mulch but once they're down, you don't have to redo it every year (which saves money and time). We always order a little more than we want and keep a pile behind our shed to use when we want to add a little to landscape bed. Landscape also sells a small gravel by the bag if you need only small amounts. Also, re the deck - we had a wood deck at our second house and swore we would never do it again. In our current house, we have a concrete patio and we love it! Can't wait to see yard progress!

    1. Lowes sells a small gravel by the bag, is what I meant to say!

    2. Is it difficult to add plants to beds that are "mulched" with rocks?

    3. We have rock beds and LOVE them. I hate to garden so its super easy maintenance. once and done. It is more cost but its just upfront cost as you have to replace mulch every year anyway. We calculated that after 5 years we would break even on the cost of rock vs replacing mulch. Its no different to plant in - just move the rocks out of the way, cut the filter fabric and then plant.

    4. Not harder to add plants. I use my hands to move rocks away, add my plant, move the rocks back and rinse with the hose.

  11. We had rocks when we moved in and I hated them. They would get in the grass and the mower would pick them up and throw them. So we switched to mulch and have loved it. They keep the moister in better and it's easier to keep weeds out of them since dirt would seep in the cracks of the rocks and the weeds would find it. Yes, we remulch every year, but it isn't that bad. Take all that with a grain of salt because we live in a dry area. Maybe rocks are easier where you are.

  12. Just something to think about...I also thought of a fire pit for our house and we tried a small one for awhile before making a permanent decision. In the end, we ended up building more of a fireplace type unit similar to the what you had at your old house. I found that when the wind would blow, the smoke from the fire would often blow into your face. With the fireplace, the wind can blow as much as it wants, and the smoke goes above our heads...a much more pleasant experience!

  13. Just a word about the rocks.... First of all, my B.S us in Geology, so you have to know I adore rocks of all kinds, and use them IN and outside our home.... having two homes that did utilize rocks in the beds I can tell you, heartbreakingly... don't. Do. It.
    I know the landscape fabrics are graded for 10+ years... but it never ends up covering the "guaranteed" years. And, if you have never had to pull up ALL THOSE ROCKS, or pay someone to do it for you.... let me assure you it is a situation you do not want to end up in. Mulch is much healthier for your plants anyway... supports active microorganisms, worms.. fungi= healthier plants that do not suffer from the compaction issues and stress of fabric + mulch. We do it the way my grandmother did and yearly wet newspaper, then throw our grass clipping on there, then throw some non treated decomposible (also the CHEAPEST) MULCH on top of that, and everything remains weed free for the season. Straw also works. Good luck, beautiful projects and I am excited for your new backyard areas... you and your families own little piece of Heaven on earth.

  14. From the comments, it seems that most people are in favor of rock mulch, but I just took it off of all my flower beds after having it for about 10 years. The cons are that eventually (I'd say around year 5), no matter what I did to keep leaves & debris out of the rocks, soil was building up in them and they no longer functioned as a weed suppressent so those little tree sprouts are still a problem & even harder to pull. Additionally, I'm digging in my beds several times a year--dividing perennials, planting summer & fall annuals, etc & I find constantly moving and replacing rocks for those jobs to be a lot more annoying than one day of freshening up the mulch every spring. Finally, my native soil is clay and, if anything, rock mulch made the soil structure worse, while wood mulch improves it.

  15. I have an old concrete pad towards the back of my yard we use to sit out on and watch the kids play. The concrete is old and just gross. I plan on painting it and doing a stencil! So that's an idea down the road if it gets to boring. Some people stencil fake rugs on them too!


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